This is the benchmark Trappist tripel, brewed at the Westmalle Abbey outside of Antwerp. When found relatively fresh, it brings a refreshingly sharp, herbal-hop bitterness to balance the sweetness, alcohol, and spicy fermentation character. With a bit of age, the beer rounds out pleasantly as more sugar comes to the fore. It’s a delight either way.
ABV: 9.5% IBUs: 39 Loc: Malle, Belgium
It seems light for a Belgian tripel, but don’t be deceived—it’s ample bitterness and spicy-floral hopping make it even more dangerously drinkable than others, balancing relatively restrained sweetness and a fruity fermentation profile. If you find it fresh on tap, it’s best to pull up a stool for a while and plan to call a taxi.
ABV: 8% IBUs: 45 Loc: Brussels, Belgium
St. Bernardus Tripel
From the hop fields near Poperinge, and a brewery known for its pitch-perfect abbey-style ales, comes this more classically molded tripel on the softer, slightly spicier end of the spectrum. Pair it with Gouda cheese cubes, celery salt, and a country bike ride.
ABV: 8% IBUs: 25 Loc: Watou, Belgium
De Ranke Guldenberg
This dryish, bitterish tripel has a strong sense of place, being amply hopped with whole-leaf varieties grown nearby, lending it herbal and floral qualities that play nicely with soft residual sweetness and a moderately spicy yeast profile.
ABV: 8.5% IBUs: 41 Loc: Dottignies, Belgium
New Belgium Trippel
New Belgium’s brewing team has been working behind the scenes to re-envision its classics for a contemporary context, and the results have been stunning. Today’s Trippel is more hop-forward, with a firm, Noble-ish, floral bitterness that gives structure to the soft citrus-blossom aroma and reasonably round body. It’s a touch softer in focus than some native Belgians, but solidly in range.
ABV: 8.5% IBUs: 43 Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado